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What is a Stroke?

A stroke or "brain attack" occurs when a blood clot blocks an artery (a blood vessel that carries blood from the heart to the body) or a blood vessel (a tube through which the blood moves through the body) breaks, interrupting blood flow to an area of the brain. When either of these things happens, it could be a stroke and brain cells begin to die and brain damage occurs.

Two million brain cells die every minute during stroke, increasing risk of permanent brain damage, disability or death. Recognizing signs and symptoms and acting fast to get medical attention can save a life and limit disabilities.

When brain cells die during a stroke, abilities controlled by that area of the brain are lost. These abilities include speech, movement and memory. How a stroke patient is affected depends on where the stroke occurs in the brain and how much the brain is damaged.

Learn more about the signs and symptoms of a stroke.

Types of Stroke

Ischemic stroke occurs when arteries are blocked by blood clots or by the gradual build-up of plaque and other fatty deposits. About 87 percent of all strokes are ischemic.

Hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain breaks leaking blood into the brain. Hemorrhagic strokes account for thirteen percent of all strokes, yet are responsible for more than thirty percent of all stroke deaths.

*information provided by the National Stroke Association

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